Force India Changes New Sponsor Name;Begins From Stratch

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SPA-FRANCHORCHAMPS, Belgium- R.I.S.--Before Thursday (August 23rd) there was a formula one team called Sahara Force India that came into this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix that was in financial trouble. So much that one of his drivers, Sergio Perez was worried that it would not last until the end of the season and filed, putting the team into a desperate bid for a buyer and into administration, which is the British version of bankruptcy.

But earlier that week, it was announced that Canadian investors, led by Laurence Stroll, the father of Williams driver Lance, bought into the team. Today (August 24th), just before the first practice for this weekend’s race, the team submitted a new name that was accepted by the F.I.A. , the governing body of this sport, as Racing Point Force India.

Gone now under this new team is Vijay Mallya and in comes team manager Otmar Szafnauer, who told ESPN F1 Friday why the name “Force India” was still on the car.

"I think the reason is that we started the year with Force India as our chassis name.” he said. “Formula One and the FIA, they don't like chassis name changes, and I understand why because it confuses the fans. We thought it was prudent to keep Force India for the fans. The car's still pink, we have the same sponsors, we still have the same drivers, we have the same motorhome, we still have the same employees. You look at us and we're exactly the same. I think it would have been confusing to remove Force India. Racing Point was added in front of Force India instead of Sahara, we were Sahara Force India before, that was just so we can distinguish between the old and the new.”

However, because of the name change, what goes with it is the official entry form for the season and now the team begins again from zero points in the constructor’s championship as a new team. Its final position will be determined by the points it accrues relative to its rivals from this weekend until the end of the season. The prize money will be determined on where it finishes this season, but the money that the team won last season still will be retained, along with its column 1 status. For the arrangement to be made official, all remaining nine teams had to approve this proposal.

For the technical side, the team still is allowed three engines made for them by Mercedes and just two energy stores.

As for the drivers, both Perez and his teammate, Esteban Ocon, will both keep their points that they have earned so far this season. But with the elder Stroll in charge, it might not be long before his son will climb into one of the two seats before the end of this season. With Perez clearly close to signing for another two seasons, it is Ocon who could get kicked off the team in place of the younger Stroll, who will have his position at Grove open for drivers like Robert Kubica, who has been the reserve for this season. But for the moment, Szafnauer is not going to comment about the situation of the drivers.

"Yes, for the short term, it's the same two," he said. "What happens thereafter, it's not impossible to change, that's for sure, but a lot of agreements would have to happen so I don't know. It's hard for me to predict that in the future."

Mark Gero

A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.

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Volume 2018, Issue 8, Posted 5:04 PM, 08.24.2018